DOVS Faculty, Learners Team Up to Teach Ophthalmology to Local Students


UW Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences faculty and residents teamed up to put on a half-day learning opportunity – all about eyes – for local high school students from three schools.

The second annual “Odyssey Into Ophthalmology” course, created by Cat Burkat, MD, FACS, took place on Friday, April 7 at the Health Sciences Learning Center. Students from Madison East High, Vel Phillips Memorial, and La Follette high schools received a crash-course in ophthalmology – everything from cornea, retina, pediatrics, to cataract surgery and low vision rehabilitation.

“This is a unique, valuable learning experience, particularly for those students in underrepresented communities,” Burkat said. “It’s an opportunity for them to see first-hand how interesting and exciting ophthalmology can be.”

Faculty and learners put on informative presentations like “Rockin’ Retina,” “Groovy Glaucoma,” and “Cool Cornea,” as well as educational games and an ‘Eye-Opening Mythbusters’ session that enabled students to ask a panel of providers questions about the eyes.

Students also received hands-on experience with suturing techniques, intraocular injections, performing a cataract surgery step on grapes – and examined each other’s eyes using slit lamps and had contests for suture tying and fine dexterity. They also had to experience various low vision impairments with simulators.

“The students had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the interactive sessions,” Burkat said. “But more importantly, they left with a better understanding of ophthalmology as a science – and also an amazing career possibility.”

residents wearing funny signs

hands practicing sutures

needle injecting into artificial eye

2 large inflatable eyeballs on a table

girls hands covering part of a orange felt diagram of an eye

girl in a red sweatshirt wearing VR goggles and sketching on a paper

woman wearing green VR googles